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I suggest A Guide to Remembering Japanese Characters, by Kenneth Henshall. It gives both the true etymology (if known) and a mnemonic explanation that is more useful to memory. It seems to be exactly what you were looking for.


Early stages of Japanese did not have relative clauses, but it was possible to modify nouns with attributive verbs (using contemporary lexicon/morphology for ease): 咲く丘 a hill where something grows I believe that from early stages, there was little restriction on the semantic role of 丘 in the action of 咲く, i.e. all this is really saying is "a hill that ...

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